The Honest Faith: Story

This time let’s do something different. Take a moment. Settle yourself. Settle your soul. Sit back in your seat. Breathe. Be conscious of your breathing. Breathe deeply. Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad. Breathe in to the count of 4. Hold for 4. Breathe out to the count of 4. Hold for 4. Repeat. Once you have felt your moment calm enough let’s move on. I’ll wait.

Ready? Great! I want you to think about your most favorite stories. It could be your favorite movie, or favorite book, or favorite television series. What makes it stand out to you? Who are the characters? What was the over all feeling you get from them? What does it make you feel to hold those stories in your mind? Do you imagine the hallowed halls of Hogwarts? Are you present on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise? Can you feel the harsh stuffy humidity of Dagobah? I chose from three of the most popular, though I’m sure there many many others out there that you can name and describe to me in detail. I love stories.

Stories are incredible. They take us to other worlds. Other versions of our own world. When our reality becomes too much, many of these stories are a welcome respite or escape to another reality, if even for a few minutes, hours, or days. In these stories we go along with the protagonist. We almost feel their emotions, superpowers, magic, or power filling our own often frail frames. In reality we are sitting or laying down, sometimes standing, but in our minds we are on the T.A.R.D.I.S. traveling through time and space with the Doctor. In our minds we can create entire worlds, realities, and characters were we are different. We are loved, we are accepted, and we are more than we ever thought we were in our own day-to-day lives.

Now, I know what I’m about to write is controversial. I ask that you bear with me. I’m not asking you to throw your beliefs out the window, I’m just asking you to follow my train of thought. What if the Gospels were not written as biographies, but instead as stories. Stories that may have used real events, real people, and real places to make a point. Now I’m not saying that they are untrue. What I am asking you to think about, is what are these stories telling us? What is the overall theme of the story? Does Mark make a different point than Luke? Does Matthew tell a completely different story than John? Why? For what purpose? I know this is something I’ve talked about before and asked before. But I want to use it as a starting point now.

When I was writing the Story of Esperanza, it helped me to see the person of Jesus as a real human being, with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I stepped into the world that I was remaking to be better understood by today’s standards. When I stepped into the world I found new things, rediscovered old things, and struggled with other things. When I looked beyond the details of the story I began to understand what the writers of these books were trying to get at. It wasn’t about all of the details. The details were just there to add to the point they were trying to make. I began to see the writers of these stories, sitting there before their writing desks with the scrolls and writing utensils. They knew of the preacher man who people believed to be the messiah. His message was one that was so different from the others around his time. Even his teacher John the Baptizer, I’m assuming that he was his teacher due to hints in the texts, knew this Jesus guy was different and  that this message he carried was one that changed everything. It did change everything.

Have you ever taken a step back and look how the world changed due to this man? I couldn’t figure out how to re-write 2000 years of history because this Jesus guy, a lone preacher man, from no-where Israel changed the course of history so dramatically. I had to include him in my new story, because the world would look completely different without him. I mean really look at it. The rise of monotheism can be attributed to this man. The shift in politics and the state of the Roman Empire can be attributed to this man. The spread of western Europeans across the globe can be attributed to this man. A lot of horrible atrocities were committed in his name. All of this can be attributed to this Jesus guy from the middle east. I would say that it is fair to argue that this one man had more of an impact on the course of human history than any other. I say fair to argue, I don’t know if it is completely accurate or not.

Each of these story tellers had a different story to tell. For Matthew it was to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah with an emphasis on his divine nature. For Mark, which was probably the first to be written, it was to show that he was the secret messiah, and a man of action. For Luke, it was to show the fulfillment of Jewish Scripture to those who were outside, gentiles, coming into this new faith, this was probably due to the arguments the early church had regarding gentiles becoming Jews first before becoming Christian. Then you have John, this one story at the end that was written much later than the other three to show that Jesus was the son of God. Each of these stories has a different approach. Each of these stories have different details and stories, they place things in different orders and don’t exactly agree on how things happened. In fact, there is no birth narrative in either Mark or John, because that wasn’t important to their stories. Luke and Matthew needed genealogies to show that Jesus was related to the most revered Jews and to all mankind. These are just little pieces of the larger whole of their stories and purposes.

When you sit down to read, watch, or listen to one of your favorite stories; does it matter if all of it happened exactly the way that it did in the past? For those stories, the vast majority are fiction. So the details don’t matter as much. Well, aside from when a book is adapted to a movie, then it matters to some. This is the major theme of some of my favorite films and stories, “Second hand Lions”, “Big Fish”, “The Life of Pi”, and many more have this theme of it doesn’t matter if it really happened or not. What matters is the story and what you take away from it. I love these stories, because sometimes the stories with the embellished bits are more entertaining and can teach more than the ones that are more documented history. Now, I’m not getting into the whole did it happen or not piece, we’ve already gone there before. What I want you to think about is the story as a whole. What do you take away from it? What is the major theme of the story? Why does the story make you feel the way it does?

Story is essential to everything in life. You are creating your own story from day-to-day. The funny thing is most of us see ourselves as supporting characters in our own story, but that’s not true. It’s our story. We are a part of many other stories, but this story is ours. That was one of the major messages and themes that ran across all 4 gospel stories. It was about telling a good story with your life, helping others to tell a good story with theirs as well. It was about love, and not worrying about the little details about that love, but just love. These were the things that made this Jesus guy great in my opinion. It was his message. One of love, acceptance, kindness, and grace all with no strings attached. Not a single agenda to it, just wanting us to live our lives to the fullest.

So here is what I invite you to do. I want you to try to forget everything you know about the story of Jesus. I know that’s almost impossible. But try. Get a good translation of the Bible. I would recommend one without verse numbers and chapter numbers. Maybe the Message, though I’m not a big fan of his translation work. I would recommend the NASB the NRSV or the ESV as they have all been peer-reviewed and translated directly from the sources none of this KJV business seeping in. I want you to read the stories again, with fresh eyes. Don’t just take pieces, do it from beginning to end. What did you learn? What stood out to you? What are the major themes? I hope that in that journey you can find something that I keep trying to tell you, that you are not alone, and you matter. You are not alone! You Matter!

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The Story Of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 23

Chapter 23:

Esperanza was then given over to the authorities who water boarded her, and submitted her to psychological torture to try to illicit the location of her followers. Her hair was buzzed off and she was made to wear a purple jumpsuit. The officers who had been given custody of her began to mock her. They kneeled and pretended lavish bowing flourishes saying “Hail, Daughter of the Divine, true ruler of America!” They spat on her, groped her, and made all sort of lewd and gross gestures toward her.

When they led her away 24 hours later she was made to carry a heavy box that held the medications that were being used for state-run executions. They then paraded her in shackles up the same street she had come in on only a week prior. She stumbled a few times due to the shackles, the weight of the box, and the pain they inflicted upon her. When she could no longer carry the box, they grabbed a Pakistani store owner off the side of the road named Sayid to carry the box for her. They paraded like this until they arrived at the state prison down the road a few miles. There were, along the way a group of men who were openly weeping as they saw her pass by. She said to them, “Do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and your children. For you are the ones who are left with the work that needs to be done.”

When they arrived at the state prison they marched her down to the execution room, and strapped her down with two other criminals one on her left and one on her right. They offered to put her to sleep before the lethal injection. She refused. The guards had taken her clothes and undergarments and began betting on them in a poker game down the hall. Esperanza closed her eyes and said, “Divine, have mercy on them; they do not know what they are doing.” Some of the priests and rabbi from the viewing area were jeering and mocking her saying, “If you are the Daughter of the Divine, save yourself. Get up off that table and walk away!” The guards made a crude poster saying Daughter of the Divine and hung it above her table.

The two beside her began to speak up. One said, “Hey! If you are what they are saying why don’t you save yourself, and us while you are at it?” The other in a rebuffing tone said, “Do you not fear the Divine? Aren’t you also going to die here with us? Don’t we deserve this? She has done nothing wrong, yet still she’s here and she is not fighting it.” Esperanza looked over at this one and slowly smiled through the pain, “I see the love of the Divine in you. Today, you will find peace.”

It was around 3pm when they began the injections. Despite the warnings not to photograph or video using cell phones one of the priests live streamed the execution. A thunderstorm had rolled in over Texas and all was dark and bleak outside. About five minutes after the dose was administered Esperanza began to scream out in pain, “Dios mio! Dios Mio! ¿por qué me has desamparado?” which means, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” Then she cried out, “Divine, I am yours.” With that she breathed her last. One of the guards who had been in the viewing room had seen all of this and with awe said, “Surely, this woman was innocent.”

Many watched the live stream of the execution. It was, rather unfortunately, viral. A man named Jose who was a state legislator paid for the funeral expenses. Her body was transferred to a nearby funeral home named “The peaceful garden”. The body was dressed in a linen gown and embalmed for burial.  There was no viewing and no memorial service as it had been prohibited by the Jesuit church and the state. Her body was moved to a secure burial tomb where a massive steel door was closed locked and under constant guard for fear of rebellion from those who followed her, and vandalism from those who despised her.

On the following Sunday, Maria, Rena, and Claire went out to where the tomb was bringing with them boxes of flowers, and memorials made for Esperanza. They had arrived shortly after dawn. They had spoken of what may happen if the guard refused to let them into the area to place the memorials. As they approached they saw that the large steel door was open. The guard was nowhere to be seen. When they entered the tomb they saw a man in a white linen suit sitting on the left hand side of the tomb. He said to them, “Don’t be surprised. You seek Esperanza Reyes who was executed. She isn’t here. She has awakened. Go tell the others. She’ll meet you in Kerrville as she has told you.” They ran from the tomb terrified. The man appeared familiar to Maria, but she let it go. The women said nothing to anyone about this, because they were terrified.

<  Chapter 22

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 22

Chapter 22

They had sung a song together to end the feast. From there they returned to the rest stop outside the city that overlooked the lights. She said to them, “After I am turned over you will all run away.” Pedro turned to her and said, “Even if they all run, I will never desert you. I’m ready to go to prison and even death for you.” She just smiled at him and calmly said to him with tears welling in her eyes, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, Pedro, you will deny that you know me three times.” He got up full of frustration. “I will not! If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” The other followers agreed and proclaimed their loyalty. She looked around crying lightly. “Remember when I sent you out with nothing before? Maybe I was wrong… You are going to face so much hardship because of me. I have to go to my end here and now, but you do not. I thank you for your loyalty. I hope that the love I taught you will not result in your end as well, but be wary that it does. I do not wish this for any of you.” She excused herself saying that she needed time alone to meditate.

Pedro, Iago, and John followed her. She said to them, “Meditate here on coming events, that you do not fall prey to what will come. I’m very distressed, so much so that I think this is the end. Remain here, and watch.” She went on a bit further and fell to the ground. She cried out, “Divine! If you are willing take this burden from me. I know that this is what is to come, but if it be your will, don’t let me go through with this.” She continued to meditate and plead with the divine. She came back and found the three asleep. “Simon, could you not watch and meditate one hour? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Again she went away and pleaded before the divine. She came back an hour later to find them asleep again. She went away again. The third time she came back and woke them. “Wake up for the time is come for me to be handed over. You will want to be awake for this.” While she was speaking to the three, a few vehicles entered the parking lot. Jaime, a few priests, and the county sheriff were in the vehicles.

Jaime approached Esperanza and gave her a hug. “Master!” Jaime kissed her on the cheek. After he let her go the sheriff ordered her to her knees with her hands behind her head. Pedro reached into his waistband behind his back. Esperanza turned to look at him sternly, “Pedro, no! No more violence. For all who live by violence will die violently.” She turned back to the sheriff and priests, “Have I displayed any violent tendencies toward you that you should have to bring police into this? When I was with all of you during the forum you didn’t lay a hand on me, but now that I’m outside and in the dark you come?” The sheriff cuffed her and put her in the back of his cruiser. They brought her to the chief priest’s house. Pedro had followed at a distance.

There was a crowd gathered in the courtyard of the estate. People were milling about and Pedro had joined those near the fire pit. A young woman saw him and said, “Aren’t you with Esperanza?” But Pedro denied it for fear of being found out. “I don’t know her from Adam.” He turned his back on her. Someone else spotted him and recognized him. “Aren’t you one of her friends?” they asked him. Pedro emphatically said, “NO!” He walked off a distance. Another in the crowd hear him said, “Hey, that guy is Mexican and from the hill country. I think I saw him with that Esperanza lady.” Pedro grew hot in the face. “I don’t know the lady you are talking about.” He turned again and as he did he heard a rooster crowing in the distance. Pedro remembered what she had said to him earlier in the evening. He left with tears streaming down his face.

Meanwhile inside the estate Esperanza was blindfolded some of the priests and rabbi spit on her. Others cat called her. Some groped her and said, “Prophesy! Which one of is did that?” They mocked her and hit her. They attempted to find people who would speak and testify against her in court; they found none. There were too many whose stories did not line up with fact. In the morning after many hours of this disgraceful assembly the high priest stood and asked her, “What have you to say against these charges?” She was silent and said nothing. Then the chief priest asked, “Are you the Messiah, Daughter of the Divine?” She said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, though you say that I am. I will not deny being the Daughter of the Divine.” The chief priest, knowing that this was as close to a crime as they could get from her, threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Do we need anymore witness? You heard her blasphemy what is your decision?” The crowd jeered and exclaimed “Execution!” The gathered crowd felt that this was enough to have her tried and executed. So they brought her out to the Governor’s office.

When the Governor granted them an audience, they accused her. “This woman is a traitor to our country and our flag. She is not a true American. She’s perverted our laws and is forbidding people from paying taxes. She has said all manner of horrible hateful things about our president Trump. She has called herself the true ruler. She said she was the Daughter of the Divine.”  The Governor looked at her and asked, “Are you the true ruler of these people?” Esperanza answered, “They have said so.” The priests and rabbi accused her of many things and the Governor asked, “Have you nothing to say in your defense?” Esperanza stayed silent. The Governor wondered at this. The Governor said, “I find no crime in this woman. All you have given me is hearsay. If you would like I can have a talk with her and pardon her (as this was the custom before the passover feast).” They cried out together, “Take this woman away. Pardon Ali Mohamed.” Ali was a young man who had been accused of terrorism and murder in Austin. The Governor asked, “What should I do with this woman then?” The crowd jeered and shouted “Execute her!”

<  Chapter 21  |  Chapter 23  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Esperanza’s last words to the the seminar were this, “Take care of yourselves. Don’t be weighed down with the cares and worries of this life. One day, all these things will not matter. It will happen suddenly. Be watchful, and be brave. You will be able to see all your work come to fruition.” As she finished up the other speakers began to murmur in the sidelines. She left unceremoniously and began to prepare for the feast of Passover.

This was the year of 2017 C.E. Donald Trump had been elected president the prior year and there had been many instances of unrest in the country. The priests and rabbi conspired to put Esperanza to death; for they feared how her message could topple the power they had over the people.

A Priest invited Esperanza and her group to dinner. There was a woman whom Esperanza recognized in the crowd. The priests and rabbi had used her as an example of a sinner, yet here she was perhaps to set Esperanza up again. When this woman spotted her she began to weep. She came and fell at Esperanza’s feet. She took a very expensive jar of oil and began to anoint her feet. She wept so bitterly that her tears wet her feet. She began to wipe them with her dress as well. When the Priest who had invited Esperanza saw this he said aloud, “If this woman were a prophet, she would have known who and what this other woman is. She’s a sinner!” Esperanza sharply looked at him, “I have a story for you, A certain banker had two customers who had taken out loans, one for $5000 and the other for $500. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” The priest thought for a moment and said, “I suppose the one who was forgiven more.” She said to him, “Correct!” She looked down at the woman and asked him, “Do you see this woman? I came to your house, you did not offer me any refreshments. You did not offer any relief for my feet. She has anointed my feel with oil and washed them with her tears. She has shown me great honor. Honestly, her sins are forgiven. She has loved much. But he…” She turned to look directly at him, “.. who has been forgiven little, loves little.” She looked back down at the woman and lifted her up. “Thank you, dear. What you have done today, will be remembered always.”

At this display, Jaime, who was one of the twelve, thought it was time for Esperanza to settle things once and for all with the priests and rabbi, possibly even Ha’Av. Jaime slipped out of the party and met with the priests and rabbi who were conspiring against Esperanza. Jaime believed that if this was set up so, Esperanza would have no choice but to become the leader that Jaime believed her to be. Jaime met with them and offered to give her over to them. They paid Jaime $3000 and Jaime agreed to a peaceful confrontation.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Esperanza sent Pedro with the group to prepare the feast for them. They asked her, “Where are we supposed to go? Should we return home or stay here in Austin?” She said to them. “Go to the grocery store. There you’ll run into a man trying to buy water. Talk to him and say your teacher has need of a gathering place. He will have the gathering room of a local synagogue ready for the passover. There you will prepare for us.” Pedro and the others set out for the grocery story which she had told them of, only half believing they would run into a man trying to buy water. Surprisingly there he was. They asked and just as she had said the room was ready. They went and prepared for the feast. That evening all were gathered together in the room.

She said to the gathered, the main group and new friends just made, “I have really wanted to eat this feast with you before I am to suffer. This will probably be my last meal.” She took the unleavened bread in front of her and she blessed and broke it. She passed it around saying, “This is the body of a new sacrifice, as the Divine made a covenant contract with Abraham, so is the Divine making new contract now. Take eat this is my body which is broken for you.” She took the wine glass from in front of her and said a blessing. She passed it around saying, “Take and drink from this cup; this is the blood of the sacrifice of the new contract that is being written between the Divine and man. As often as you drink and break bread do it remembering me and our time together.” This troubled all who were gathered as they did not know of what she was speaking of, yet. She turned to Jaime, and said, “Go and do what it is you have to do.” Jaime didn’t know how she knew about the conspiring but Jaime got up and left to go get the priests and rabbi. They sat and finished the feast together. Esperanza’s mood was dour, though the feast was lively and enjoyed by those gathered.

<  Chapter 20  |  Chapter 22  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 20

Chapter 20:

The other priests and rabbi watched her closely. They even sent spies into her solo lectures who pretended to be sincere, that they might take what she said and use it against her in accusations and court. One such spy asked her, “Teacher, we know you are honest and do not show favoritism, and honestly show the Divine in all you do. Is it good, according to what is written, to pay taxes as they worship a power structure and a false god of government?” Esperanza perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Pull out a dollar bill. Who’s picture is on it? What does it say on the back?” They said to her, “George Washington’s picture is on it. It says ‘In the Divine we trust’ on the back.” She then said, “Well, give Washington what is Washington’s, and give the Divine what is the Divine’s.” As this did not incriminate Esperanza, they were speechless and had to sit back down and marvel at what she had said.

Again, the spies came to her in one of her lectures. They asked, “Moses wrote many millennium ago that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise the children. Let’s say there were seven brothers. Let’s say the oldest marries this woman and dies before they have any children, and the same goes for each brother through all seven of them. After the last brother dies, the woman dies. If there is a resurrection to come, whose wife will she be? For she was married to all of them.” Esperanza said to them, “You make things too complicated for yourselves. This woman is not an object to which possession should be determined. Why not ask the woman who she’d rather be married to? They are all children of the Divine, and in that Kingdom what laws of this country would apply? The Divine Kingdom cannot compare with the countries of this world. That would be like asking if an apple’s skin is red, why are not oranges grown in New York.” The spies again were set back and could not answer to what she had said. They dared not ask any further questions.

She continued with her lecture. “Who do you think the Messiah is descended from? The ancestry of David? Didn’t David write:

The Divine said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
Till I make thy enemies
A stool for thy feet.

David called him Lord; so how is he a descendant?” She looked out over the crowd gathered, nobody could answer this. They stared in silence for a while. After a bit she continued, “Beware of those who think they have all the answers. They do all they can to be seen by others. They love the sound of their own voices. Their sermons are long and their vestments gaudy. They want to be called teacher, doctor, or reverend to be seen as better than everyone else. Call no one better than yourself. For there is only one who is better than you and that is the Divine. If someone wishes to be better than you, let him serve you. Whoever puffs himself up to be better than, will most certainly be humbled. Whoever is humble will be exalted. But woe to you teachers, doctors, and reverends for you shut the Kingdom of the Divine against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter go in. They will take from the poor and needy to offer up longer and more pained prayers to be seen for this “suffering”. They will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, who would travel the world for one convert and you make them as much a child of hell as you are. Woe to you, for you value wealth above the Divine. You blind fools!”

“If there was a poor widow who came to your temples or churches and put twenty dollars into the offering. Where all the rich put in 10% of their income. I would honestly tell you that the widow has put in more than any of them. For they gave out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living she had. As for these things that you see around you grand speaking halls, massive stages with sound systems and professional lighting, parking structures for many vehicles, and even coffee houses in the lobby; one day none of this will be here for you. Listen, so that you are not led astray; many will come just like me claiming to speak for the Divine. They will say that they are the Messiah, and the ‘end is here! The Divine is here to judge the evil!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and horrible things happening in the world, do not be terrified; people will do such things. Many will make you suffer for these things. If you are loving, kind, and accepting of your fellow-man people will call you weak and all manner of things for this message. They will accuse you and persecute you, saying you are not a true Jesuit. Endure. For the message is bigger than all of this.”

<  Chapter 19  |  Chapter 21  >

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The Story of Esperanza: Chapter 19

Chapter 19

After they were done in Houston, they came up to Austin. Before they entered the city they had stopped for lunch at a rest area just outside the metropolitan area. Philip was dismayed at the state of the world for they had been listening to the local National Public Radio station in his vehicle. Esperanza gathered her group together and told of the prophet Zechariah from the Hebrew Scriptures. She told of Darius and how the tribes were released from exile. She told of how even when times looked bleak that hope for the future still remained. They focused on the later half of his writing, which in English translations are divided into chapters 9-14. They saw hope in the work she was doing. They knew that despite how things may look now, they were working toward a better future. Esperanza comforted them and removed herself to freshen up in the rest area.

While Esperanza was in the rest area, the group gathered together. They decided to fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah. Pedro had found a 1994 Dodge colt nearby which had never been driven. He purchased it over the phone while the others made arrangements. They wished to make this a reality for who else would be a ruler to bring about peace to her people than Esperanza. Pedro left to pick up the vehicle with Iago. The others kept Esperanza busy until they returned. When they arrived to purchase the vehicle the owner asked why they needed this particular car. Pedro just smiled and said, “Our leader has need of it.”

When Pedro returned with the vehicle in tow behind his truck he presented it as a gift to Esperanza. They told Esperanza of the new path into the city which they would take. It was off of the interstate but a main road into the heart of downtown. They told her the route and had her drive in the lead of the caravan. As they came near the city they saw a whole host of people who supported and followed Esperanza lining the street entering the city. They all cheered and lifted banners and signs. They shouted out loud, “We love you Esperanza! We follow your lead! Bring us peace!” When the religious leaders caught wind of what was going on with the impromptu parade, they called the police. The police pulled over the parade, and said to Esperanza, “Teacher, tell them to stop, we can’t have this here.” She with tear-stained eyes looked at the officer,” I can’t tell them to stop. Even if I could, the very streets would cry out in celebration for them.” The Police then escorted the parade the rest of the planned route.

Esperanza was scheduled to speak at the large temple in Austin, which some referred to as a “Mega-Church”. She was part of a panel that weekend on religion and ethics. When she arrived she looked around at everything. She saw the other speakers had set up tables and were selling books and wares with their names and pictures all over them. Rage burned brightly behind her eyes. She saw a coffee roaster franchise had been set up inside the temple. There was even a rock climbing wall for recreation. This was not acceptable in the slightest. Esperanza began to turn over the tables and drive the speakers and their assistance out of the temple. She said to them, “Have you not read the Torah? It says,’My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you made it a den of thieves!” She sat in the temple entryway and cried softly.

The other speakers, who were priests and rabbi themselves, were a ways off. They talked together and sought to destroy her. They could not find something they could do to her, because the crowds loved her. She remained in the panel but she spoke against all who would make it into a show for themselves. Each night she and her group would return to the rest area to sleep and talk about the days events.

One day, as she was speaking and teaching in the temple, the other speakers challenged her, “Tell us by what ‘authority’ you do these things, or who died and made you the Divine?” She answered calmly, “Answer this first, was Juan, my cousin, ordained by the Divine or by men?” They spoke among themselves and then answered, “If we say from the Divine you will say why didn’t we believe him? But if we say from men the people here will hate us and not listen to us because they believe Juan was a prophet. So to answer we will just say we do not know.” Esperanza smiled slyly and said,”Then neither will I tell you who gave me authority, or who died and made me Divine.” She then turned to the audience and told them a story, “A man owned a farm. He tilled the land, built a house, a barn, and even a silo. He was called back to his home country to take care of business. So he rented out the farm to tenants. When the time came he sent an assistant to check on the farm and gather the share of the crops laid out in the contract. The tenants lied and threatened the assistant. They said that there were no crops to be had and he couldn’t possibly be sent from the landlord. This troubled the landlord so he sent another assistant. This one they played head games with and wouldn’t let them onto the land. The landlord sent yet another assistant. This one discovered the crops that had been grown and all that was done on the land, for the tenants were not present. When they arrived, they murdered him and hid the body. The landlord sent all that he could to the land, never receiving a favorable report or even word of the one assistant that had gone missing. He decided it was time to send his child. Surely, they would respect the family of the landlord. The tenants beat, tortured, and killed the landlord’s son. They hid the body off the farmland. What do you think the landlord would then do? Would he not call the authorities and have the tenants taken off the land and brought to justice? Have you not read this part of the Torah: ‘The very stone which the builders rejected has become the sure foundation’?” The other speakers got up in a fury and stormed off the stage. They contacted the organizers to have Esperanza removed, but the organizers said she was the one bringing in the crowd, they couldn’t fire her. They knew the story was about them and their treatment of the Divine’s people for so long.

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The Story of Esperanza: Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Shortly before they were in Austin, they were in Houston preparing to give lessons there. While walking around the city one day, they encountered a blind beggar sitting downtown along side of a popular coffee shop. When they came near he heard the group and asked who they were. A passer by told him it was Esperanza of the Texas Hill Country. He began to cry out and say, “Esperanza, daughter of the Divine, please see me!” Other passers-by tried to quiet him and became concerned with how loud he was getting. He just started calling out louder, “Daughter of the Divine! See me!” Esperanza came up next to him and sat with him. She asked him, “What do you want from me?” He turned his face toward where he heard her voice. “I want to be able to see your face.” She turned to him and placed a hand on his cheek. She said, “See me, and know my message.” He blinked and when his eyes opened again he saw her face and those around. He got up and joined the group following her.

A short while later, there was a CEO of a major bank based in Houston named Zack. He had heard of Esperanza and wanted to see her for himself. There was a large crowd gathered around her as she was walking by so he was unable to see this woman he had heard so much about, as he was short. He ran ahead of the crowd and found a mesquite tree along the path. Even though he was wearing an expensive suit and shoes, he just had to see her. He climbed up in the mesquite tree and waited. When the crowd passed by below, Esperanza stopped and looked up at this well dressed man up in the tree looking at her. “Zack?” she asked as she had read articles about this man before, “What are you doing up there come down!” He immediately scrambled down and stood before her. He said, “I had to see the person they said could cure addiction and heal the mind.” She smiled, “Let’s have lunch.” When the crowd saw this they murmured to each other, “He’s going to a banker’s house? Doesn’t she know how poorly he treats his employees and customers?” While at lunch they had a conversation. She discovered that he had become addicted to a certain drug due to the stresses of his job. He had spent a lot of money on it and covering it up. She healed him and shared her message of hope and love. At the end of the meal, he stood in the place they had eaten and declared, “My name is Zack, I am the CEO of a large banking corporation. I hereby declare that half of all that I have will be given to the poor. If I have defrauded anyone, or my company has, I will pay them back four times as much.” Esperanza smiled at him, “Today, you have been saved.”

“This reminds me of a story.” Esperanza told them. “A rich young man went on a  campaign to be elected to a seat of power within congress. In order to judge their ability to help in his new status he called his assistants together. To one he gave $1000, another he gave $500, and yet another he gave $100. He instructed them to invest his money and he would determine what had been done when he returned from Washington. There were those in his district that did not like him for all manner of rumor was set against him on the Internet. He loved his people, however, and was, for the most part, a good man. He returned from his campaign victorious. He had won the votes to become the next representative of that district. He called his assistants together again. The first came to him and said,’ I was able to invest in a new start up in our district, which grew tremendously. I doubled your money in the time that you were campaigning.’ The young man said to him, ‘Well done! You’ve been faithful to me and I will trust you with my finances while I’m in office.’ The second assistant came to him saying, ‘I invested in a dairy farm in your district, it wasn’t much but we were able to get a cow and it has since produced enough milk to make back the money spent on it and then some.’ The young man said to him,’Excellent! Good job, I can trust you to be my right hand man here in the district listen to what my constituents have to say, and ensure that I know what they need.’ The last assistant came to him, ‘Here is your money. I put it under my mattress for safe keeping. I was afraid I’d lose it if I invested it for you, because I know you are shrewd business man. I am not.’ The young man looked at his assistant disappointedly,’I’m sorry, that was not what I asked you to do. You knew I was a shrewd business man, why didn’t you just put it in a savings account where at least I could have gotten a few cents interest in this time. Give me the money. I’m going to give it as a bonus to the assistant I can trust with my finances. You should have invested the money like I had asked. I’m sorry, but I cannot trust you with even a little bit. Collect your things, you are fired.’ He then put together a press conference to  speak to his constituency. He assured them he would make sure to represent them well. He introduced the second assistant who would be his go to person in the district to ensure that he heard the voices of the people. He also introduced the first assistant who would be in charge of the finances to ensure that those in his district who needed investing in would be invested in. This helped to solidify that he did care about his people.”

<  Chapter 17  |  Chapter 19  >

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The Story of Esperanza: Chapter 17

Chapter 17

While Esperanza and her group were traveling through Austin, one day, they walked under an overpass. This overpass happened to be a popular place for the homeless to “camp”. As they were moving through one of the homeless men recognized her. “Esperanza, teacher, please help us.” he called. When the groups eyes adjusted to the shade, she saw the skin lesions. She asked about them. The man who called out answered, “We cannot afford care, most of us have cancer of varying types. We are forced to choose between room and board, or treatment. Most of us chose treatment and go when we have enough for one of us to go.” Esperanza whispered to Pedro. Pedro pulled out his phone and began fiddling with it. She spoke to the man. “Gather all in your group, go and see the nearest oncologist. When you have you all will have room and board for as long as needed until you get back on your feet.” The homeless gathered their things and set out as a group as soon as they walked into the sunlight beyond the overpass those with skin lesions discovered they were gone. Those with pain felt none. The left to see the doctor. One of them when he saw that he was healed turned back. He ran and fell at Esperanza’s feet, thanking her. Now he was a trans person from female to male, which had him shunned by most in their group. Esperanza said to him, “Weren’t there more of you? Where are the others? Go, here is the address that you shall receive room and board, it will all be taken care of.” She motioned to Pedro who handed her his phone. She jotted down an address and handed a slip of paper to the man. She smiled and continued on her way.

As they walked on, Esperanza told her group a story. “There once was a judge. This judge was selfish and couldn’t care less about humanity. There lived a widow in the same city. This widow was constantly filing a motion for a restraining order against a man she claimed was stalking her. For a while this judge refused. One day he thought to himself, ‘I should just grant this filing so that I can have some peace around here, or else she will keep coming.’ Notice what the selfish judge says. The Divine hears your cries, and does not wait to answer them and give you what it is you need. When all is said and done, will you be selfish and not give to those who ask of you? How about this? Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Priest, and the other a banker. The priest stood and prayed aloud so that all may hear him. ‘Divine, I just, Lord, I thank you that I’m not like those sinners over there. I’m not gay, or trans, or a molester, or greedy, or even like this banker over here. I go to church every day, and I tithe 10%.’ But the banker, standing in the back corner, wouldn’t look up. He just stood looking at his feet. He prayed quietly in his mind, ‘Divine, have mercy on me a sinner!’ I tell you, the banker was more justified than the priest; for he asked and was given forgiveness.”

The group arrived at the convention center in Austin that Esperanza was teaching at. While getting things prepared, a senator for the state of Texas arrived at the convention center to speak with her. “My good lady, what must I do to have this life you tell your people about so often?” he said with an almost fake sounding southern drawl. Esperanza stopped what she was doing and looked him dead in the eye, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but the divine. You know the laws: don’t sleep around, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t commit perjury against a neighbor, and honor your parents.” He said to her with greasy smile, “Why, of course, my lady. I have grown up in a Jesuit church. I’ve followed those laws since I was little boy.” Esperanza never broke her stare, “One thing you lack, however, sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and then you will have the life you seek. When you do, come and follow me.” The fake smile he gave to the media and crowds broke. He now looked stern and woeful. He said with a bit of a quiver, “Thank you for your time, miss.” He turned and hurriedly retreated for he was very rich. Esperanza went back to what she was doing. As soon as the Senator left the area she said to her group, “How hard it is for the rich to enter into life! It is easier for a rocket scientist to perform brain surgery than it is for a rich person to discover life.” Philip asked, “Then who can be saved?” She said to Philip, “What you think impossible is the simplest thing for the divine.” Pedro turned, “But, we left everything for you.” Esperanza looked at them and smiled, ” You stayed with me through everything. You’ve discovered life. You will give others life. People now look to you for life. There is not one of you who has given up everything for this message that will not receive life in return for what you have given up.”

She continued, “For life is like a vineyard owner who went out early in the morning to hire day laborers. After he was out purchasing supplies, he spotted some more laborers and hired them as well. After lunch he found more and hired them as well. Later in the afternoon after a meeting with his distributors he found more and hired them as well. When the sun was setting the vineyard owner went out to his fields. He called all the workers in. He paid all of them the same wage for the day, even the ones he hired early in the morning. Those who were hired earlier complained. He said to them, ‘Didn’t we agree on this price this morning? I’m giving you more than a fair wage, I choose to give them the same wage. What I do with my money is my decision. Or would you rather begrudge my generosity?’ Life is generous and completely counter to what many would believe. The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

<  Chapter 16 Chapter 18  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 16

Chapter 16:

Esperanza spoke on, “From long before the time of Yeshua Ben-Yoseph people have been trying to create the Kingdom of the Divine by force. You have tried to force the message of peace by violence and fear. That is not how this works. The law was given so that you may understand how to treat one another. That is a message of peace not of violence and fear.”

The Priests and Rabbi decided to fire back and trip her up on the law, “What about divorce? Is that lawful?” Exasperated, Esperanza turns to them again, “What does the earliest record of the law state?” The religious leaders returned with, “It says to give a certificate of divorce if requested.” She again looked hard at them. “This law was written for humans to act civilly together. If someone requests a divorce and means it shouldn’t it be given so that they can live peaceably in society? Laws are written for us to live together peacefully, not for us to be enslaved to them. This seems to be the one law you and people like you excuse the most. Why not the others?”

“Let me put it this way, there once was a very rich man. Outside of this man’s gated community was a poor woman who often liked to camp outside the gates as the lawn was well maintained and the walls provided shelter from the harsh wind. She also knew there were good scraps of food in the dumpster as the rich people within the community threw away large amounts of unspoiled food. Coincidentally, both the rich man and the poor woman died on the same day. The poor woman arrived in the Kingdom of the Divine, the rich man, however, saw only a desolate apocalyptic hell-scape. He turned and, as if looking through a frosted window, saw the poor woman and another figure with her. He called out to them, ‘Please! Help me! I only want just a bit of water. I don’t see any, how am I to survive in this?’ The figure spoke, ‘Don’t you remember all the wonderful things you had in life? Do you remember that this woman beside me had none of those things. Now she has all the good things she could want, and you have none. For the measure of a man is not in what he has, but in how he shares it.’ He then said, ‘Well if I cannot have those things now, send someone to tell my family so they will not end  up like this.’ The figure spoke again,’ They have the law and those who taught on the law for centuries. Why would they need another?’ The rich man spoke again,’ But they don’t listen to those things, I didn’t. If someone who was dead comes back and tells them though, maybe they will listen. ‘ The figure spoke again,’ If they don’t treat other people with love and kindness, they wouldn’t be convinced to do so even if someone from the dead were to tell them to.'”

On the other side of the park where they were gathered was a playground. Esperanza motioned to the children playing there. “Would you want to keep them from the Divine? Would you tell a child not to treat someone else with kindness and love because of ‘The Law’? No! You would let the children run to the Divine. For they know full well that all are loved, all are human. Unless someone comes to the Divine with a heart like that, they are doing it wrong. You would rather hinder that, however. I tell you whoever stops one like them from coming to the Divine,… Well, it would be better for them to shut their mouths and lock themselves away. Woe to them who do such! There is forgiveness though. Listen to the voices of those who tell you that you are doing such, if you do you will be forgiven.” One of her friends, Pedro, shouted, “How many times should we forgive these creeps?” Esperanza smiled with a reproving, but humorous smile. She spoke loudly enough for all to listen. “You should never stop forgiving. When you stop forgiving you’ve become just like them. You would close the gates to the Kingdom to even just one, you have become just like those who would keep children from the Divine.” Pedro blushed and got lost in the group of friends. The teachers could say nothing. They burned with rage and stormed away.

When she returned to her friends, they lauded her. They asked her, “Can you teach us more of the Kingdom, so that we can speak like you?” She said to them kindly. “You already know of the Kingdom. With a little bit of work, kindness, and love you can change the world into the Kingdom. The world doesn’t change suddenly. It doesn’t happen with signs and fanfare. You wouldn’t be able to point and say, ‘Oh, look there’s the Kingdom.’ It’s already here, you are making right here, right now. This gathering is the Kingdom. Things may get bad. They always do, but never stop loving and being kind to one another. Don’t stop accepting people for who they are. You are going to encounter all sorts of people like these. People who worship power and wealth above all else. They will say they are followers of the Divine, but they only lead people away from the Divine. This message is dangerous. People will despise you for this message of love and kindness. Don’t go back to how you were. If you want an easy life, you can have it, but you would never be happy. Instead, never stop forgiving, never stop loving, and never stop treating others with kindness. If you do, you will be filled with life.”

<  Chapter 15  |  Chapter 17  >

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The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 15

Chapter 15

Esperanza’s popularity grew with each tale of her healing. One day she posted to social media this statement, “If you want to be my follower if you truly want to learn from me, you must consider this cause more important than all you have. The cause of love is more important than your family, your life, and even your own wellbeing. You must be willing to suffer and possibly even die for other people. Consider what it will cost you to follow me. Who goes out to buy a sports car but cannot afford the payments? They are laughed at and made fun of. What person when planning a party does not consider their guests when planning snacks and meals? If you hold tightly to what you have in the here and now, you will eventually lose it. Instead give freely, love freely, and know that this is dangerous work. What good is a car without gas? Or a fountain without water? If you say you follow me and my teachings but do not actually do them you are without purpose.”

A short time later, Esperanza had met with her friends and there was a larger group of people gathered around her. This was a gathering of people many would consider being outcasts and ‘sinners’. A group of rabbi and priests were passing the gathering. They murmured rather loudly for people to hear, “She hangs around sinners and outcasts? She eats and has gatherings with them?” The crowd grew silent and split so that Esperanza could speak to the group of teachers. “Tell me which one of you if your dog runs away will not go out and put up missing posters? How about when the dog is found would you not celebrate that your family member has returned home? These are my family members. This party is an image of what the Divine’s kingdom will be like. We found each other, you are welcome to join us. Or how about this, if you lost your wallet, do you not tear your house apart looking for it? Once you have found it would you not breathe a sigh of relief? These people are looking for a place to call home. Here together, we are building home.

There once was a man who had two sons; the youngest said to the father, ‘I know we are a wealthy family. I’d like my share of things to try to get started on my own ideas and company.’ The father considered this and wondered what his son would do with the investment. He gave it to him. Not much later the son went out and got distracted buying himself all manner of frivolous thing. He bought clear toilets with money in them just for show. He bought the most expensive beverages and food. But did not get started on his business ideas. When he discovered he had spent all that he had, he panicked. He was evicted from his penthouse and all of his stuff was repossessed. He started to work at a fast food restaurant because it was the only job that he could get. He couldn’t even afford to eat. He would have gladly eaten any of the food he served up every day, but the company had strict rules against that. He thought to himself, ‘How many people work for my father? Don’t they have enough to eat? They get paid well enough. They have enough, yet I am dying out here on minimum wage. I’ll go to him and say that I’m sorry, I’m not worthy to be called his son. I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.’ He took what little he had earned after months at the fast food place and bought a bus ticket. When he was still far from the house, his father spotted him. He knew it was his son. His heart welled up and he ran to meet him. The son stopped and could not make eye contact. Through the tears, he said to his father, ‘Dad, I’m so sorry. I’m not worthy to be your son.’ The father interrupted him and said, ‘Stop. You are my son, you will always be my son. You made a mistake. We’ll work it out. Come inside get cleaned up and put on good clothes for we are going to celebrate tonight.’ The eldest son caught his dad on his way back inside. ‘Dad, I’ve been here the entire time. I’ve worked hard for you, you’ve never given me a party.’ The father smiled and put an arm around his eldest son, ‘Son, your brother has come home. You are always with me, everything I’ve had is yours. Your brother has come home to the place where he belongs.’

There also was a businesswoman who owned many franchises. One day one of her advisors informed her that there was a franchise manager who was skimming money from the business. She called the manager in for a meeting. ‘You have been accused of skimming money from the business, what do you have to say for yourself?’ While the manager was trying to explain, he thought to himself,’What am I going to do? If I’m fired I have no marketable skills. I know, I will lessen my take so that other people will take care of me.’ The businesswoman fired him. He was given to the end of the week to settle up any accounts with a close eye. He settled up the accounts cutting his portion of the commission out of the bills, on some they amounted to 50% on others it was 20%. The businesswoman was informed by those who kept a close eye on the man. She was impressed at his thoughtfulness for his own position, and his attempt to make some things right. For those of you who do not follow me are quite shrewd in the way you conduct your business. Maybe you should take a look at those you do business with and make friends with them and see they are just like those who have gathered. For with your mind on your money, you worship only Mammon.

Those who are faithful with little will also be faithful with a lot. But, also, those who lie about a little will certainly lie about a lot. So when you lie about a little with your business dealings and worship of mammon, who will gather around you to help you? If you have lied about other’s business as well, who will give you what is your own? Nobody can serve two desires; either they will hate one and love the other, or they will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both the Divine and Mammon.”

Those who were scornful at the beginning scoffed at this. But she said to them, “You are those who make yourselves look good in front of people, but the Divine knows your hearts; those who are praised for their good appearances before others look horrific to the Divine.”

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